salt

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

by Heguiberto on January 11, 2013

This Napa cabbage kimchi turned out as authentic as the ones I eat at Korean restaurants here in San Francisco. It was fun to make and it took just 3 days before it was ready. (Three days might sound like a long time to some, but I’ve seen recipes where the kimchi had to ferment for a week or more.) I have made kimchi at home before but never used the traditional Korean gochugaru pepper. Instead I substituted jalapeño and poblano peppers, which resulted in an ultra-spicy version. This is milder.

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

This recipe, with some minor adaptations, comes from Insanity Theory written by Ellie Won, a South Korean who grew up in Australia.

Aside from the excellent recipe, she wowed me with a kimchi refrigerator! Pretty cool! It makes sense to me. My jar of kimchi only fit in the refrigerator after some serious reshuffling.

Steven served it for the first time with rice and beans cooked in the Brazilian way. I simply love mixing foods from different ethnic backgrounds. The results can be surprisingly good. I think that this is what they call fusion cuisine? A bit of this and a bit of that combined together? It certainly breaks the monotony of a meal that could otherwise be boring and monochromatic. A toast to globalization!

The recipe calls for Chinese pear, which I didn’t have. I added red radish to it and changed the proportions of chili powder, sugar and fish sauce. I also added a fresh red jalapeño pepper because… well why not?

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

1 large head Napa Cabbage cut into wedges (~6Lbs)
~1½ cups non iodized sea salt
4 cups water (1 quart)
1 heaping tbsp sweet rice flour (sticky rice)
1 &1/3 cup Gochugaru chili powder
3 tbsp fish sauce (leave it out in case you want to make it vegan) use ~ 1 tbsp salt instead
1 tbsp sugar
6 whole scallions cut into 2’’ long segments
6 cloves garlic
1 2’’ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ white or sweet onion
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and ribs removed
5 small red radishes, thinly sliced
1/3 lb daikon, sliced

key ingredients for authentic kimchi

key ingredients for authentic kimchi

Dissolve ½ cup of salt in the water. Add cabbage bottom parts in first. Make sure all leaves and base receive a coat of this brine. Drain water.

Use part or all the remainder salt to sprinkle over each leaf, including the thick white parts at the base. Put the cabbage in a bowl and let the salt dehydrate it for about 3 hours (Ellie recommends 5-6 hours or until it is floppy). Mine became floppy within 3 hours.

Rinse cabbage thoroughly in running water to remove excess salt. Squeeze it to remove as much water as possible. Place it in a colander and allow it to drain for another 15 to 20 minutes.

During the cabbage dehydration process, make a ‘pudding’ or ‘glue’ by mixing rice powder with ½ cup of water and cooking it on low heat, whisking nonstop until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Towards the last 10 minutes before draining is complete, add jalapeño chili, onion, ginger, garlic, and daikon to your food processor. Whiz into a pulp. Mix this pulp with the rice ‘glue’ along with gochugaru pepper, sugar and fish sauce.

Using a spatula spread the kimichi paste uniformly on both sides of each of the leaves. Put the cabbage in and jar, cover and let it rest in a dark, cool place for about 3 days. Be careful when opening it as gases that build up during fermentation will be under pressure. When ready the flavors will have married and you will sense a slight fizzyness, At this point refrigerate and enjoy.

As your kimchi continues to age in the fridge the flavors become more pungent. If it gets too intense to eat by itself, you can turn the kimchi into soups or make a yummy kimchi fried rice.

{ 1 comment }

Sweet potato’s great! Don’t you love it? I do. I’ve made it seasoned with shoyu and toasted sesame oil, which is amazing. They’re lovely simply oven baked, too.

my somewhat blurry yet fabulous version of roasted white sweet potato in garlic and ginger

my somewhat blurry yet fabulous version of roasted white sweet potato in garlic and ginger

Somehow, I’m disappointed to see so few stories on our blog about this humble tuber. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new culinary trend for us at weirdcombos.

This recipe couldn’t be simpler (though I’ve read some food blog advice somewhere that strongly discouraged describing things as “simple” “quick” or “easy,” as all that’s very subjective, isn’t it?). And it packs a lot of flavor: you have the sweetness of the potatoes, the spiciness of ginger and garlic all stitched together with just plain sea salt. You can serve this for the holidays. Thanksgiving is already right around the corner.

well, aren't you four the sweetest little things

well, aren’t you four the sweetest little things!

roasted white sweet potato in garlic and ginger

4 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch thick rounds
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ cup vegetable broth

Pre heat over to 350F.

Toss sweet potato slices with salt, ginger, garlic and olive oil. Lay them in a loaf pan. Pour vegetable broth over potato. Cover with tin foil and bake to 20 to 30 minutes or until soft. Remove foil towards the end for a slight caramel color.

{ 3 comments }

I have always wanted to try making a salt crusted fish, really ever since Emeril Lagasse made it on his show about ten years ago. It was so impressive when he cracked the fish out of its salty shell. He didn’t even need that trademark expression to pique my interest.

salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

This dish is simple—yes, simple. And it makes quite an impression for a dinner party, which is when I made this recipe for the first time. Two of our guests, Aime and Whitney, had just ordered this at an over-priced restaurant in Las Vegas for a whopping $150—for a single fish at that.

I used the recipe from epicurious which was much simpler than Tyler Florence’s. I made two since I had a group of five. This was perfect and even left a bit of fish for Clarence to enjoy later.

salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

2 pounds Kosher salt
1 cup water
2 pound whole red snapper, cleaned
1 lemon
Olive oil

here I am patting the salt over the red snapper

here I am patting the salt over the red snapper

it's time for the oven

it’s time for the oven

the guests are enjoying themselves as I work in the kitchen

the guests are enjoying themselves as I work in the kitchen

just out of the oven it looks like dirty snow

just out of the oven it looks like dirty snow

my first ever salt crusted red snapper

my first ever salt crusted red snapper

Pre-heat oven to 450F.

Cut lemon in half then slice one half into three or four rounds. Fill fish’s cavity with lemon slices.
Pour water into salt and mix. Press about half of the moistened salt in the bottom of a baking sheet. Place fish on top. Press remaining salt over entire fish to make a bright white mound. Bake 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and crack open salt crust with a wooden spoon, meat tenderizer or what have you. This is the most impressive part of the entire process though messy, too. I performed this step in the kitchen, made a huge mess, and delighted my company.

Place fish on serving platter. Drizzle with some olive oil and lemon juice from reserved half lemon. Garnish and enjoy.

I served this with a hearty lentil and caramelized onion rice as we were drinking red wine that night.

{ 7 comments }

whole wheat roti

by Heguiberto on January 23, 2012

whole wheat roti

whole wheat roti

Indian unleavened breads are incredibly easy to make and very tasty. This roti is no exception. I particularly like dipping the warm fry bread in dal (lentil) soups or really with any curry dish. It is my number one choice for my vegan masoor dal.

You can use roti to scoop and soak up any type of food on your plate. That’s a good thing because nothing goes to waste. We always wipe our plates clean this way, so I’ve come to think of this bread as an environmentally friendly way of eating.

whole wheat roti

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp canola oil
Some water

Using your hands, mix together flours, salt and oil followed by about ½ cup of water. Add more water by spoonfuls and keep kneading until you get a smooth, relatively soft bread dough. Drizzle a tiny bit of oil over it. Cover with cling film and let it seat, room temperature, for about 30 minutes.

rolling out the dough

rolling out the dough

Divide dough into small balls and roll them out into thin tortilla-like pancakes with a floured rolling pin and surface.

Cook them on medium-hot temperature in lightly oiled non-stick skillet for about 1-2 minutes per side. Push the pancakes down to form a few blisters on its surface for good looks and taste! Place them on serving platters lined with warm towels to preserve freshness and heat.

pan frying the roti

pan frying the roti

In Brazil we serve lentil soup New Year’s Eve with wishes for good fortune. I served mine for New year’s in San Francisco in the company of Steven, Jasmine and Prof.T.

{ 3 comments }

decadent French toast

by Heguiberto on January 20, 2012

Things with custardy fillings, textures and flavors taste like heaven to me. I love Portuguese custard pies, crème brûlée, flan, English bread pudding and of course, any decant cream-soaked French toast. A toast to French toast, I say!

decadent French toast

decadent French toast

Last Friday I went to the new La Boulange bakery that has just opened nearby my office in the Financial District of San Francisco. My co-workers Caroline and Megan wanted to taste their popular open faced smoked salmon sandwich and soup for lunch. It looked delicious, like everything else on the menu. The pastries seemed amazingly crispy and browned to perfection. While waiting in line, I couldn’t take my eyes off of this shinny, glossy, sesame seed-covered, braided brioche (challah). It was begging to come home with me. What can I say? I’m irresistible.
I used the brioche for this marvelous breakfast the next morning.

key ingredients for decadent French toast

key ingredients for decadent French toast. Mmm, that brioche loaf looks good!

decadent French toast

1 challah/brioche loaf cut into thick slices (about 6 to 8 )
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup half and half
½ tsp Kosher salt
3 tbsp sugar
~ 1 tsp canola oil
powdered sugar

Add eggs, sugar and salt to a bowl and whisk until incorporated. Add half and half and whisk again to combine. Soak bread slices on both sides for about ½ minute each. Allow bread slices to soak up liquid to almost completely saturate them with the cream mixture. Don’t let them break apart though, as it will ruin the presentation.

Meanwhile heat up a skillet with ½ tsp of canola oil, add as many slices as your skillet accommodates and fry them for about 3-4 minutes, flipping them half way. Be careful not to burn or under cook. Transfer to a serving platter, repeat with remaining. Dust powdered sugar over and serve. We had ours with some blueberries, butter, maple syrup and a nice big cuppa strong coffee.

frying the cream soaked brioche

frying the cream soaked brioche

dig in!

dig in!

{ 4 comments }

Romeo and Juliet croissants

by Stevie on September 19, 2011

Whenever Hegui and I travel to Brazil, one of my favorite desserts to enjoy there is “Romeo e Julieta,” which consists of a small plate with a piece of very white, salty and mild cheese and either a small scoop or slice of red guava preserves. The colors are always dramatic: pure white and deep red. I’m fascinated by the taste and the name: Romeo and Juliet? I’ve asked many times which is which? Is the white cheese Romeo and the red guava Juliet or vice versa? Nobody seems to know the answer.

Romeo and Juliet croissants

Romeo and Juliet croissants

In preparation for this story, I’ve been reflecting more on the colors of the two filling ingredients. To me, the whiteness of the cheese implies purity, cleanliness, simple joy, innocence, naivety, and surrender; the deep red, passion, lust, love, anger, and blood. Really then, the Brazilian dessert might be about the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, which as almost everyone knows was full of innocent love, blood lust, passion, surrender, naivety and all the rest.

When I think of these star-crossed lovers, I’m reminded of that amazing modernized film version of the Shakespeare play directed by Baz Luhrmann, Romeo + Juliet. Have you seen it? It’s the one with Claire Danes as Juliet and Leonard DiCaprio as Romeo. The filming is visually stunning. I especially love the famous part where Romeo climbs to Juliet’s balcony at night. In the film version, they fall into a breathtaking Southern California-style swimming pool in their party costumes as they hide from detection by the Capulet guards and Juliet’s Nurse. I’ll never forget it. Here’s the link on U-tube if you haven’t seen it.

ROMEO
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid since she is envious.
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off.
It is my lady. O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks, yet she says nothing. What of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold…

JULIET
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

This was my inspiration for today’s friendly cooking challenge: Julia Child’s croissants. Actually, this time I suggested making croissants for the challenge, but my dearest Heavenly was the force behind the organization of the delightful event. If you haven’t already, check the links below to see how the other participants’ creations turned out.

Heavenly from donuts to delirium
Vanessa from Sweet Artichoke
Anna from Keep it Luce
Joumana from Taste of Beirut
Glamorous Glutton
Jamie’s Girl
Christina from Thyme to be Loved
Erika Beth from Life’s too Short to Skip Dessert
Faith from An Edible Mosaic

Sadly, I have to admit that I had some trouble with this recipe. I followed Mamaliga’s instructions and her really helpful photos demonstrating the various moves as well as I could. I made some accidental alternations to Ms. Child’s original recipe. I forgot to buy milk, for one, so I used soy milk instead. And trying to be really cool and P.C., I got an extremely overpriced tiny bag of organic pastry flour to make my 2:1 ratio of pastry to all purpose flour mix, only to realize when I got home that the pastry flour was whole wheat. I’m not sure but I think that that made a difference.

my two bags of flour with the printed instructions and illustrations for Julia Child's croissants

my two bags of flour with the printed instructions and illustrations for Julia Child's croissants

adding the butter to the leavened dough

adding the butter to the leavened dough

I even used a ruler to measure the dough, just like was recommended.

I even used a ruler to measure the dough, just like was recommended.

To make these “Romeo and Juliet” croissants, I filled each with about a teaspoon full of guava butter (from my local Brazilian market) and mascarpone cheese (the traditional salty dessert cheese from Brazil doesn’t really melt that well) before rolling them into their final shapes and letting them undergo their last rise. That’s my only addition to this straightforward yet challenging recipe.

As you might have guessed, making these takes forever. You have to let the dough rise; then add butter, fold and rest; then fold and rest again; then shape and rise again, then bake. The French must be very patient people. But the taste, divine! My god, these little messes were really, really, really good. And I don’t write that very often at all. These were good!

my guava and mascarpone

my guava and mascarpone

the final rise

the final rise

I’m not going to recreate the recipe here, since in all other respects I followed it as precisely as I could. And really, Mamaliga’s pics in the kitchen are way better than mine ever could be. I had a lot of trouble at the end forming the final bits of dough into the correct triangular designs to roll smoothly into similarly shaped croissants. Plus I was a bit rushed, as our dinner guests where about to arrive. Instead, I fear that mine looked a bit like malnourished newborn puppies, all wiggling around in a basket.

I will make these again, eventually, perhaps when I’ve hours and hours of unstructured time on my hands. But for now, I’ll just daydream.

tasty, and fun to play with, too

tasty, and fun to play with, too

{ 19 comments }

I was completely psyched when I came across this recipe for oatmeal buttermilk pancakes at this fun food blog, Cooking the Books. I love buttermilk pancakes but usually stick to my favorite, based upon one published in Eating Light magazine in 1992. Though ever since we went to Mabel’s Just for You Bakery and Café and tried their divine oatmeal pancakes, I’ve been looking to upgrade my tried-and-true.

Cooking the Books-style vanilla oatmeal buttermilk pancakes

Cooking the Books-style vanilla oatmeal buttermilk pancakes

Cooking the Books comes closest to Mabel’s that I’ve made so far. I tried a few earlier recipes but was sort of disappointed, either because the great oatmeal texture wasn’t right (one recipe called for blending the batter before cooking, or more commonly, the texture was too dry and undercooked) or the flavor wasn’t especially exciting.

This version is intensely sour, I have to believe due to the prolonged soak that the oats undergo in the buttermilk (up to overnight!) That is not how they serve them at Mabel’s. Nevertheless, they’re rather thrilling for it.

I measured things in volume after weighing them to approximate the C-the-B version. I like vanilla so put some in here. Also, I didn’t recognize some of the things in the original recipe (e.g. “kitchen roll” to grease the skillet: is that porkfat?) so I improvised with butter and vegetable oil. I was surprised that the recipe didn’t call for the addition of any oil. Mine stuck a little, so next time I’ll add a tablespoon or so.

Cooking the Books-style vanilla oatmeal buttermilk pancakes

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups plus buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
½ tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
butter and vegetable oil for cooking

Mix oats with buttermilk. Let soak in refrigerator for an hour or two, up to overnight.

Mix dry ingredients together. Beat eggs. Fold eggs and flour mixture into soaked oats. Add more buttermilk if needed to get a consistency somewhere between runny and thick.

Heat skillet (I use two at a time to make things faster). Grease with butter and/or vegetable oil. Lower heat to medium to medium high. Pour a ladle of batter into center of pan. Allow to cook and bubble (a minute or two) then carefully flip to cook reverse for a few minutes more. Cooking pancakes is truly an art so don’t be discouraged if they turn out irregularly shaped, splatter or are over- or underdone. Just keep at it. Mine are always funny looking.

Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Thanks so much Cooking the Books for this fine recipe!

{ 6 comments }

basic foccacia

by Stevie on March 18, 2011

I tried making foccacia long ago, right as we were starting weirdcombinations. I used a recipe from Saveur magazine, which looked gorgeous on their cover and at my home. Unfortunately, the taste wasn’t quite right. The dough was too heavy and doughy, if you know what I mean. At the time I had intended to try other versions until I fond one that worked for me. But like so many things, it was put on hold. That is until now.

basic foccacia topped with parmesan, black olives and oven-roasted onions with balsamic vinegar

basic foccacia topped with parmesan, black olives and oven-roasted onions with balsamic vinegar

I planned to use a recipe from allrecipes, which looked simple because they only let the dough rise twenty minutes without a second rising. But once I started exploring other options, it didn’t sound long enough. So my trusty 1997 Joy of Cooking came to the rescue again. I ended up mixing the two recipes and sets of instructions to arrive at the perfect foccacia. Finally!

basic foccacia

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 package of active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
black pepper
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup warm water
olive oil

for toppings:

1 tbsp parmesan cheese
oven-roasted onions with balsamic vinegar*
12 black olives in halves

Mix flour, salt, yeast, sugar, dried oregano and black pepper together. Add canola oil and water. Mix until firms up a bit. Kneed dough for ten minutes. Form into a ball. Pour some olive oil into a large bowl and coat dough ball with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 90 minutes in a warm place.

Grease a large baking tray with more olive oil (I covered one with aluminum foil to make clean-up easier.) Press dough flat into tray. Cover and let rise another 60 to 90 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 450F.

Gently press some depressions across surface of dough and brush with more olive oil.

Sprinkle with parmesan. Top with olives and roasted onions. Bake about 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, cut and serve warm.

*To make roasted onions, peel and slice two onions into rings. Toss with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper. Broil until cooked and somewhat caramelized.

{ 7 comments }

heartache tagliatelle custard

March 14, 2011

This recipe is part of a cooperative “cook-off” with my darling blogger friend, Heavenly, from donuts to delirium, and Christina, from Buenos Aires to Paris. I’ve been wildly excited about cooking with these two and remain thrilled to have been included. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out their cool blogs soon and […]

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savory sundried tomato, basil, provolone and mozzarella mini-cakes

March 3, 2011

This recipe suggestion comes from Faith at An Edible Mosaic. I’ve only recently stumbled across her blog but have become a huge fan already. She made savory muffins with caramelized onions, feta and rosemary the other day. These looked really good! She also suggested some variations, like savory muffins with sharp cheddar, dried cranberries and […]

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